Reagan Did It Too; Post Promoted Counsel's "Integrity"
- The House and
Senate held hearings, but the networks skipped them to focus on
Reno and 1987 video of Reagan doing the same thing as Clinton.
- On Today, Tim
Russert argued that the public should think they all do it, but
then NBC ignored evidence of unique Democratic actions.
Washington Post two weeks ago: "The White House's Lanny
Breuer Wins Points for Integrity from Both Sides."
- ABC's Nothing
Sacred delivered a pro-choice message, but on CBS Touched by an
Angel showed that pro-choice can mean pro-life.
- A whale kills
a shark. Dan Rather calls it "the battle of the
1) A busy news day Thursday with plenty to tell viewers about on the
fundraising front, or so you'd think. Janet Reno lashed out in anger
at the White House for delaying the release of the videotapes, the
Senate committee recalled Richard Sullivan to probe his knowledge of a
Ron Carey Teamster-DNC money funneling plan which has already led to
three guilty pleas from consultants who worked for both campaigns; and
the House investigating committee welcomed its first witnesses, but
the three who had been granted immunity asked that cameras not film
their testimony. According to CNN's AllPolitics Web site, two
"straw donors" said that "at [Charlie] Trie's request,
they separately wrote $12,500 checks to the Democratic National
Committee in February 1996 for a fundraiser at a Washington, D.C.,
hotel. Neither knew anything of the event, and were reimbursed a week
later by Antonio Pan who had a Hong Kong address."
Democratic-provided video of Ronald Reagan supposedly encouraging
donations at a 1987 White House event. NBC allocated just 24 seconds
to all the days's events, ignoring everything but Reno. Only CNN
viewers would even know the House held a hearing since ABC, CBS and
NBC didn't mention it. But for that matter, neither CBS or NBC told
viewers anything about the Senate hearing, though CBS ran a
"Reality Check" suggesting that if the Senators want to find
fundraising improprieties they "could easily start by setting up
a great big mirror."
Here's a rundown of Thursday,
October 10 evening show coverage:
NBC Nightly News.
Here's the entirety of what Tom Brokaw, who led with Hurricane Pauline
hitting Mexico, told viewers about fundraising:
"In Washington today,
Attorney General Janet Reno whose been under fire all week for her
handling of the campaign fundraising investigation said very bluntly
she was quote mad' when she found out the White House had turned
over videotapes of those coffee fundraisers the day after she
announced her decision not to ask for an independent counsel in the
matter. She also said that decision could still be reversed."
Total time: 24 seconds
and nothing on the House or Senate hearings. But NBC followed with a
full story from David Bloom at the White House on Clinton praising gun
manufacturers for agreeing to include child-proof safety locks when
their guns are sold.
-- ABC's World News
Tonight for second day in a row led with fundraising. Peter
"We begin again
tonight on the subject of campaign fundraising in the White House.
Today Republicans and Democrats battled on over whether the White
House was used as a staging ground by President Clinton to raise
outright political money. Today the Attorney General weighed in on
how she thought the White House at the very least was not
forthcoming soon enough with information. And now tonight we at ABC
News have come upon a videotape in which President Ronald Reagan
seems to be clearly lobbying for money at a donors meeting in the
Reporter Linda Douglass
outlined Reno's anger at the tape delay, but noted that Reno
maintained that the tapes don't change her opinion that coffees legal
because there's no evidence of solicitation. Douglass then shifted to
"Democrats insist Mr.
Clinton's Republican predecessors went farther that he did in asking
for money. Democratic sources provided ABC News with a never before
seen videotape of Ronald Reagan in the White House in 1987 thanking
the Republican's biggest contributors, known as the Eagles."
- Reagan in the White
House before a large crowd on September 30, 1987: "You
started as just 85 contributors. Your support helped our party
and in a few short years you helped us come roaring back."
Douglass: "President Reagan talks about the importance
of the 1988 presidential election and asks the contributors for
campaign hard for the nominee of our party. And let me ask you
now, I know this is silly, but can I count on you to help?"
Republican campaign finance attorney concedes Reagan's appeal
may have violated the law, but on a very small scale."
Jan Baran, attorney: "President
Reagan may have made a solicitation, although very indirectly,
compared to five years of the Clinton presidency during which
time there was extensive, pervasive, repeated, unprecedented
political use of the White House."
Douglass concluded: "Republicans
charge it is Mr. Clinton's incessant use of the White House as a
fundraising tool that makes him stand out. But Democrats say
Ronald Reagan's veiled fundraising pitch is just more proof that
everybody does it."
Total time on Reno: 45
Total time on Reagan: 1:20
Next ABC ran a piece from
Brian Ross on Democratic ties to Teamster election fraud, the subject
of Thursday Senate hearing. But first it should be noted that when
three consultants, who worked both for the Clinton campaign and for
Ron Carey's committee, plead guilty back on September 18 the three
broadcast networks ignored the development. Three weeks later, ABC is
the first to get around to it.
Ross explained the three
guilty pleas, including one by Martin Davis, and the connection to the
Clinton campaign. He reported that two top Democratic officials now
under investigation for the money swap are Clinton campaign chief
Terry McAulife and his finance director Laura Hardigan. Both have
denied the allegation, but Ross continued:
"At today's Senate
hearings former Democratic finance director Richard Sullivan
testified that Hardigan brought him to a lunch with Teamster
consultant Martin Davis."
mentioned if we were to help him raise some money for Carey it would
help him in his efforts to raise money for us from unions."
That Ross introductory
sentence and Sullivan soundbite totaling 17 seconds encompassed the
entirety of Thursday night broadcast network coverage of the Senate
The CBS Evening News,
like NBC, started with El Nino causing Hurricane Pauline to pound
Mexico. Dan Rather transitioned from that to Reno:
weather in Washington tonight over the White House coffee tapes. The
Clinton camp took a blast of heat from Janet Reno, the President's
own Attorney General."
Scott Pelley began:
"In the Rose Garden the President and his Attorney General
barely exchanged a glance after her extraordinary broadside."
Pelley went on to show soundbites of Reno, report that the Senate
committee has demanded the other 100 tapes and note that the Justice
Department wants the originals, not dubs.
Several stories later, and 20
minutes into the newscast, Rather declared:
"Again today U.S.
Senate investigators poured scorn over the White House coffee tapes
and other fundraising practices. And again today U.S. Senators
killed an attempt to pass legislation to reform campaign
fundraising. Now maybe you're wondering how all this could be. Well,
just look at the Senate committee members running the hearings and
their own fundraising. That's just what we did for tonight's CBS
Evening News Reality Check by Eric Engberg."
Engberg opened: "Hot
on the trail of dirty money raised in the presidential campaign, the
Thompson committee, like the French cop in the movie Casablanca, is
shocked, shocked at those swarmy fundraising abuses...What they
don't make pronouncements about is how much first hand experience
members of the committee in shaking the money tree...And individual
members of the committee have a certain familiarity with the
shenanigans they're denouncing."
Engberg ticked off a list.
Foreign influence on U.S. politics: Thompson was a lobbyist for
Toyota. Riady family: Carl Levin got $715 from James Riady. (Yes, just
$715, less than $1,000) Using the White House: When Quayle was VP Don
Nickles signed a letter offering donors the chance to meet the VP at
his house. Fundraising calls from government buildings: Bob Smith did
it from his Senate office. Government employees helping with
fundraising: Max Cleland, when Georgia's Secretary of State, used
state workers to track his supporters.
Engberg concluded with the
everybody is just as guilty of just as serious violations angle:
- "When it comes
to sniffing out the breakdown of a system created to police
money and politics, this committee, like many places on Capitol
Hill, could easily start by setting up a great big mirror."
CNN's The World Today
led into a Wolf Blitzer piece on the White House fighting back by
highlighting Reno's comments. Blitzer ran the same Reagan video as
ABC. After a brief anchor-read item on the Senate hearing, CNN aired a
full report from Bob Franken on the House hearing, making CNN the only
network to acknowledge the House even held a hearing.
2) CNN and
MSNBC did not offer any live coverage Thursday and in the morning on
Today aired an interview segment, but the theme seemed to be
"Can't we all just get along?"
The cable networks resumed
regular programming Thursday with neither CNN or MSNBC offering any
live coverage. CNN provided hourly updates from the Senate from Brooks
Jackson at just past 10am ET, 11am, 12 pm and 2pm, but MSNBC did not
air an update from Joe Johns until about 12:15 pm ET. Instead, MSNBC
spent much of the day showing live reports from Milan, Italy on
"fashion week" in the post Versace era. Neither Jackson or
Johns looked at the House hearings.
Thursday's Today brought
aboard Tim Russert who wasn't bothered by Ickes' memory loss and
argued that it's natural for the public to say they all do the same
Lauer asked, as transcribed
by MRC news analyst Eric Darbe:
Ickes is clearly up to the task of jousting with these Senators, but
several times, as a matter of fact dozens of times, during his
testimony he used the phrase 'I don't know' or 'I don't remember,'
how damaging to his credibility?"
Russert replied: "Not
very Matt, because people expected that. His goal was simple, avoid
legal trouble, do not implicate himself or the President legally,
and score a few political points, he did what he set out to
After an exchange about
Thompson retracting a charge he made about Clinton meeting with a
union official, Lauer worried about the loss of bipartisanship:
- "Remember back
in January at the inauguration, it was like Woodstock,
Republicans and Democrats walking around, holding hands,
pledging love and peace, nine months later, we fast forward, I
want to play you a little sample of an exchange between
Republicans and Democrats at the hearing yesterday."
Following he clip of a disagreement between Thompson and Glenn,
Lauer wondered: "What happened to peace and love
Lauer stuck to the
topic, next asking: "But will it backfire with the with
voters, with the public who seem to really genuinely like that
spirit of bipartisanship?"
Russert jumped at the
chance to pick up the they all do it theme: "I think so
Matt, and I think the whole issue of campaign finance reform.
They hear all these allegations. They hear people fleeing the
country or taking the fifth or can't remember, and they think
that both parties are avoiding accepting responsibility. The
front page of the paper today: a firm pays $8 million fine. Why?
Because they gave illegal contributions to both parties. And
nothing will be done and the American people will say 'they're
Twelve hours later NBC
Nightly News ignored the House hearing showcasing Democratic foreign
money laundering and a Senate hearing on a money swapping plan between
a union and the Clinton team. Yes, the public will think they all do
it when the networks don't tell them about the illegalities of one
Graham, the MRC's Director of Media Analysis, wrote up this item on a
contrast between the actions of the White House counsel who handled
the videotapes and how the Washington Post portrayed him a few weeks
- White House special
counsel Lanny Breuer was subpoenaed by the Justice Department to
tell why he waited more than two full days before informing the
department's investigators last Saturday about the existence of
the White House coffee tapes. As the White House man in charge
of responding to subpoenas from Senate investigators, Breuer has
a lot of explaining to do about why it took three months to
respond to a specific request for videotapes from the White
House Communications Agency.
- Is Breuer the
Stonewaller-in-Chief? Not according to The Washington Post,
which just a few weeks ago ran a Style section profile with the
headline "The White House's Lanny Breuer Wins Points for
Integrity from Both Sides." Reporter Howard Kurtz asserted
in the September 23 tribute that "many Republicans give him
high marks," but only cited one anonymous source. Kurtz
then drew tributes from five Clinton White House operatives and
a Senate Democratic investigator. Kurtz noted that when Breuer
was asked about Republican charges of deliberate foot-dragging,
he said "It is utterly baseless." Mocking Breuer's
soft-spokenness, Kurtz added: "Then he really ratchets up
the rhetoric: 'It is utterly, completely baseless.'" Kurtz
ended with a sympathetic quote from fellow White House lawyer
Lanny Davis noting amazement at how little Breuer gets angry
with people, "given the incredible pressure he's under and
the tugs and pulls on him, it's amazing to me that it's so
night ABC's 8pm ET family hour drama which is set around the life of a
liberal priest at an urban Catholic church, Nothing Sacred,
delivered an episode in which the priest gives a young woman money so
she can have an abortion. But not all of television promotes abortion
as the best option. Two weeks ago the CBS Sunday night family hour
drama, Touched by an Angel, offered a pro- life message.
As detailed by MRC
entertainment analyst Melissa Caldwell: Touched by an Angel
took on abortion in the September 28 episode, but in a departure from
Hollywood's decided pro-choice bias, the show chose to support life,
even in the case of severe birth defects. The episode featured a
pro-choice woman, Joanne, who gets pregnant. She discovers early on
that the child has down syndrome. Bill, the father of the child tells
his wife "knowing early gives us other options, right?...This is
a mistake and we can correct it and move on...I don't want you to
[abort], but it is the only way we are going to have the family we
Joanne contemplates having
the abortion, and even goes to a clinic with the intent of getting
one, but at the last minute she changes her mind, deciding that it is
a miracle just to be able to have a child. When her husband questions
her choice saying "You were the one preaching pro-choice all
these years. What happened?", she replies "I got
pregnant...I'm still pro-choice, and Bill, I just made one. I'm going
to have this baby." MRC analyst Adam Pogach noted, that although
the word "abortion" was never used, the show's message was
definitely life affirming.
5) Over hype
of the day. Plugging an upcoming CBS Evening News story on the first
video to capture a Killer Whale killing a Great White Shark, Dan
Rather exclaimed: "And what shark watchers have learned from
the battle of the century off the California coast."
WWI. WWII. Vietnam. Iran-Iraq
War. Rwandan massacre. Whale kills shark.